Original article published in Foster’s Daily Democrat by Paul Steinhauser available here
Bill Weld has already been campaigning in New Hampshire nearly every week since launching his long-shot Republican primary challenge against President Donald Trump in April.
But now the former two-term Massachusetts governor and 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee says he’s going to turn up the volume on his 2020 presidential primary bid after Labor Day.
In an interview Monday with Seacoast Media Group, Weld said that when it comes to campaigning in the first-in-the-nation primary state, “we’re edging towards three or four days a week up here, as opposed to two days here, one day there. So closer to full time.”
But he added, “I’ve got to make a little time for Iowa.”
While he’s paying some attention to the Hawkeye state, which kicks off the presidential primary and caucus calendar, Weld’s focusing most of his firepower in the Granite State.
It’s next door to his home state – so it’s easy and inexpensive to campaign here. It’s the first-primary state, and just as important, it allows independent or undeclared voters (some 40% of the state’s electorate) to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.
And that’s Weld’s pitch to unaffiliated voters — that “just in case they want to vote against Mr. Trump twice instead of once, they can do that by coming and voting in the Republican primary.”
Weld emphasized that he’s “getting some traction” with his message.
“So to me, obviously, it does depend on the number of people who come out to vote in the primary. But Mr. Trump is such a polarizing figure that I think he may draw a whole bunch of independents and Democrats into the Republican primary,” he explained.
That hope is allowing Weld – for now – to discount the latest polls – which indicate he’s the longest of longshots to knock off Trump.
According to a University of New Hampshire poll for CNN that was conducted earlier this month, 86% of those likely to vote in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential contest said they currently support the president. Just 7% said they would back Weld.
Sanford calls NH Republicans ‘financial conservatives’
The former governor would be far more liberal than Trump on policies surrounding climate change, the environment and energy. Weld has endorsed keeping the United States in the Paris Agreement, spoke last year of the “pressing need to act on climate change,” is an outspoken critic of Trump’s environmental policies, and favors increasing renewable energy and nuclear power.
Weld may soon have some company on the GOP primary campaign trail. Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford is taking the next month to decide on whether he’ll launch a primary challenge against the president.
And Sanford tells Seacoast Media Group that a stop in New Hampshire is on the itinerary, saying “I’m going to make it a point to get up that way.”
Sanford, a fiscal conservative who’s said a primary run would be about highlighting his deep concerns about the nation’s spiraling debt, highlighted that “one of the things that’s always stood out about New Hampshire is the way in which you have people who like financial realism. They’re pragmatic in looking at numbers. They’re financial conservatives and so absolutely it’s a place I’d spend time and focus on.”
Harris safe drinking water bill
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday helped introduce a bill in the Senate that would pour some $220 billion in clear and safe drinking water programs across the country.
The bill, known as the “Water Justice Act,” would give priority to high-risk communities and schools where water is contaminated.
It also includes a provision on contamination from per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which is a major concern in New Hampshire. The measure, along with a similar bill already introduced in the House of Representatives, would direct the EPA administrator to determine a national primary drinking water regulation for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
With ongoing water contamination issues at Pease International Tradeport and the Coakley landfill in Greenland and North Hampton, the topic is of upmost concern to many Seacoast residents.
Team Beto helps clean up Wallis Sands
Presidential candidate and former congressman Beto O’Rourke wasn’t in New Hampshire this past weekend, but some his staff and volunteers braved the heatwave to help clean up Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye.
The clean-up was part of the effort to protect New Hampshire’s short but treasured coastline and to shine a spotlight on the Texas Democrat’s plan to combat climate change.
New Hampshire State Campaign Director Mike Ollen emphasized that “by helping clean up Wallis Sands State Beach, we’re reminding Granite Staters that as President, Beto will prioritize his plan to address climate change, protecting our natural environment here in the Granite State and across the country.”
Bitter backs O’Brien
Former New Hampshire Speaker of the House of Representatives Bill O’Brien officially declares his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday evening.
But a day ahead of campaign launch, O’Brien released a large list of leading Granite State conservatives who are backing his bid for the GOP Senate nomination.
That list included the conservative 603 Alliance and one of the group’s leaders, Rye’s Diane Bitter, who’s also one of the chairs of the Rockingham County Republican Committee.
O’Brien said he is grateful for the early support, highlighting that “I have been encouraged to run for the U.S. Senate by men and women leaders from across our state. They know we need a stronger voice for New Hampshire who will put people before Washington.”
O’Brien becomes the second Republican to launch a campaign to try and unseat former governor and two-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of Madbury.
Retired Army Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc – a Laconia native who now lives in Stratham – announced his candidacy last month. And last week retired Army Ranger and trial lawyer Bryant “Corky” Messner filed paperwork to set up an exploratory committee.